Grant given to expand First Nations involvement in major projects

Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief councillor Corinna Leween is vice chair of First Nations Major Projects Coalition

That’s Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief councillor Corinna Leween, front row far left, at an announcement of a federal grant to expand Indigenous participation in major industrial projects. Leween is vice chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition. Beside her is federal natural resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)

That’s Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief councillor Corinna Leween, front row far left, at an announcement of a federal grant to expand Indigenous participation in major industrial projects. Leween is vice chair of the First Nations Major Projects Coalition. Beside her is federal natural resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson. (Submitted photo/Lakes District News)

Cheslatta Carrier Nation chief councillor Corrina Leween is vice chair of a First Nations group whose job is to expand First Nations economic and other interests with the help of $13.5 million from the federal government.

Announced this month by federal natural resources minister Jonathan Wilkinson, the money to the First Nations Major Projects Coalition will help First Nations gather the information needed to make informed business decisions concerning natural resource and infrastructure projects.

It’ll mean increased contact with governments and companies as plans advance for industrial projects, including minerals.

The First Nations Major Projects Coalition has a board of directors concentrated in northwestern B.C. with a membership mostly in B.C. and now expanding across the country. There are now nearly 85 members of the coalition.

“Ensuring Indigenous engagement and participation in resource projects going forward is a priority for this federal government — and it is critically important to economic reconciliation,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal natural resources minister in announcing the $13.5 million grant.

“This announcement is another step forward in ensuring that Indigenous communities will have the tools and capacity to engage and to benefit in meaningful, long term ways.”

Leween was appointed as vice chair of the coalition in 2015, one of several roles she has in First Nations economic development that includes the Coastal GasLink (CGL) First Nations Limited Partnership which has an option to buy into the Coastal GasLink natural gas pipeline now under construction.